Patricia Urquiola’s armchair design for Cassina explores the gender-bias through furniture

What are the first words you think of when you hear the word ‘masculine’? Chances are those words were a derivative or a synonym of words like hard, rugged, strong. Similarly, when you play the word association test with ‘feminine’, you’re more likely to think about grace, softness, elegance. Patricia Urquiola’s Gender Armchair for Cassina explores these characteristics and how they can coexist in furniture. The Gender armchair aims at addressing the bias of masculinity and femininity being defined the way they are. The chair lets you see what you want to see – it’s both hard, with a strong internal framework, yet soft, with padding. The armchair uses large volumes, which one may consider masculine, but features a gently curved silhouette, a common trait associated with femininity. The armchair, which pairs with a similarly designed leg-rest, explores the dichotomy of gender with colors too, using complementing colors that are a combination of subdued and vibrant.

If the Gender armchair reminds you of the Eames Lounge Chair, it’s perhaps by design. Both chairs approach their design the same way, with a combination of hard and soft – seen in the Eames chair’s hard plywood back and soft leather cushions. Patricia Urquiola, however, addresses it more directly with the Gender armchair, bringing this element of observation into the limelight.

Designer: Patricia Urquiola for Cassina